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July 1, 2015

Mapping Promotes Community Gardens

Mapping Promotes Community Gardens

By Natalie Mady

Collaboration lies at the core of many successful social innovation projects. I run Cordwainers Grow, a garden-based social enterprise that connects and inspires communities through creative projects that bring people closer to the natural world around them. We promote community participation and cohesion and help alleviate social isolation. In my experience, projects are rarely delivered single handedly. Co-operation is fundamental for needs-driven initiatives.

Much of my work relates to education, sharing knowledge and empowering others through lessons learnt from experience. The SEISMIC network has been very useful for strengthening this aspect of my work. It has allowed me to collaborate with others in similar fields and explore themes that relate to both my academic and professional work, particularly with the Transnational Working Group on Collaborative Mapping.

I see mapping as a powerful multidisciplinary tool that can be implemented at varying scales and levels of detail to achieve specific outcomes. On the municipality level, it can locate resources for community gardens such as un-used land, free soil and building materials, and training opportunities. This helps groups to get projects off the ground. If we look at the city level, this can be expanded to map out a network of existing community gardens, allowing interactions and knowledge sharing across like-minded projects. Putting these projects on a map makes them visible to others and promotes collaboration locally and beyond.

I am currently part of a research team at University College London (UCL) that is studying co-operation within community food initiatives in London. By researching the stories and interactions behind these projects, we are now mapping them out on an online platform where knowledge can be shared. In this project, we partner with Mapping for Change, an initiative that empowers individuals and communities to make a difference in their local area through mapping. This is one example that will feature on the “Map of Maps” platform being created by the SEiSMiC Collaborative Mapping working group.

Natalie Mady, a UK SEiSMiC participant, runs Cordwainers Grow, a Hackney-based community interest company focusing on connecting people and place through discovery.